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Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

Genre: Comedy
Rated: R
Directed by
: Larry Charles
Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen, Ken Davitian
Released by: 20th Century Fox

In Short: Satire at its finest is at the heart of "Borat," but prepare to be offended by something before the credits even roll.

Filthy, Offensive and Hilarious
'Happy Times' at the Satire of the Year

by Jenny Peters

If you are sensitive at all—and we mean at all, about anything— be warned. “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” is absolutely, positively, indubitably not for you. But if you love bold satire with a completely twisted outlook, then you should be first in line to see this incredibly funny movie.

Sacha Baron Cohen, the British comedian best known for his Ali G persona, plays Borat in this pseudo documentary that follows the Kazakhstani news reporter on a fact-finding mission to the United States. Joined only by his trusty (and very fat) producer Azamat Bagatov (Ken Davitian, whose performance is just as inspired as Cohen's), Borat first shows his audience what life is like in Kazakhstan. It only takes ten minutes to insult women, Jews and everyone that actually lives in Kazakhstan before the two head off for New York City where the comedy really goes into high gear.

Cohen and Davitian (and their skeleton film crew, shooting real people and places all along the way) jump wholeheartedly into the American experience, never breaking character for a moment as they literally wreak havoc from New York to California. From the moments where Borat tries to kiss male New Yorkers hello (not good) to the most outrageous scene in a Dallas hotel where the two guerilla filmmakers have a buck-naked fight that rages out of their room and into the hallway, elevator and lobby, hilarity mixes with disbelief and complete astonishment.

As the pair make their way across the United States, their encounters with real Americans will make you cringe, sigh and burst out laughing—and sometimes be stricken by just how narrow-minded, racist, sexist and downright dumb our compatriots can be. Borat's portrayal of Kazakhstan doesn't seem all that different from parts of America.

Although it doesn't seem possible, as the movie unspools, it just gets funnier and funnier. It culminates when Borat finds Pamela Anderson, his dream girl, signing autographs in an Orange County Virgin Megastore, and tries to marry her on the spot. Just those moments alone are priceless, and if Anderson actually knew that she was part of a movie comedy—as most of the unwitting Americans along the way did not—then she's a better actress than we've ever given her credit for being.

The less you know about “Borat” going in the better—the discovery of the absurdity is part of the rollicking ride. So avoid seeing any trailers, interviews or commercials that will give away too much, and just go and see it. You'll walk out shaking your head and grinning, and quoting Borat's catchphrase, “Happy times!”

(Updated 08/30/07 NJ)

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